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Controversial EasyJet ads are most talked about of 2003

LONDON - EasyJet, the budget airline that does not retain an advertising agency, made the most talked-about ads for 2003, beating campaigns starring Gary Lineker and Jamie Oliver.

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EasyJet may have had a big impact, but it hasn't always been in the headlines for the right reasons. Its "Weapons of Mass Distraction" ad featuring a woman's breasts attracted a large number of complaints, and the execution "management trainee" was accused of plagiarism.

But according to the Ads That Make News survey, compiled by Propeller Communications and Durrants Media Monituring, the ads were written about in national newspapers more than any other over the past year.

Other headline-making EasyJet ads were those featuring 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire'-cheat Major Charles Ingram, headlined "No Major Fraud"; and spots plugging cheap fares to Spain after David Beckham was transferred to Real Madrid.

Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO dominated the Most Talked About survey taking second and third place on the list with its ads for Walkers crisps starring Gary Lineker and the Jamie Oliver Sainsbury's campaign. It also created the Wrigley's "dog breath" spot, which became the most complained about ad last year and the sixth most talked about, and work for Pepsi, at number eight.

The survey shows that controversy and celebrity remain the best way to get ads into the news. McDonald's made equal fourth on the list with coverage of the global "I'm lovin' it" campaign, featuring Justin Timberlake, as well as a banned print ad about the way its fries are made -- or rather the way they are not made.

McDonald's tied with the 118 118 runners for headlines. The WCRS ads may have been among the most loved of the year, but they were not without their own controversy, as the runner David Bedford claimed that his likeness had been borrowed, threatening legal action.

Martin Loat, managing director of Propeller Communications, said that the EasyJet result showed that it was not necessary to employ an award-winning agency to create high-profile ads.

"EasyJet created instant fame by consistently parodying popular tabloid celebrity culture. By plugging into the stories of the day the company created a bigger platform for their simple low-cost message than the media budget alone could buy," said Loat.

Ads That Make News 2003

1. EasyJet print campaign, created in house

2. Walkers starring Gary Lineker, created by AMV BBDO

3. Sainsbury's starring Jamie Oliver, created by AMV BBDO

4=. McDonald's, created by Leo Burnett

4=. The Number/118 118, created by WCRS

6=. Wrigley's Xcite "dog breath", created by AMV BBDO

6=. Honda "cog", created by Wieden & Kennedy

8=. Vodafone starring David Beckham, created by JWT and W&K Amsterdam

8=. Renault starring Thierry Henry, created by Publicis

8=. Pepsi's celebrity endorsements, created by AMV BBDO

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